This Face Swap at the British Museum Is a Masterpiece

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Finally, art history is interesting again. In what is typically a rather boring walk through dusty museum sculptures has life again, thanks to one museum-goer who has face swapped an entire museum, from Egyptian mummies to Roman statues. Jake Marshall from Norwich first came up with the idea when he was at the British Museum in London last month.


Created with the face swap function on the mobile social media app Snapchat, face swap allows anyone taking a selfie with their phone to automatically swap faces with anyone standing beside them. That includes posters, monuments, people (duh) and even sculptures. Marshall posted his smartphone

photo series to Imgur, which has since gone viral, having been viewed over 552,000 times.

Donning a red sweater and gelled up spiky hair, Marshall perused the museum’s 10 departments with his phone. The photos are not just straightforward face swaps; Marshall used expressive facial expressions to add to the photo’s drama. While some are funny, like the one with a stone-made Egyptian pharaoh, others are downright disturbing, like stone sculptures in white marble which come across like ghostly spirits when face swapped.


He went through the ancient Greece and Rome wing, which has over 100,000 artifacts that date back to 3200 BC, and the ancient Egyptian and Sudanese part of the museum, which dates back to 10,000 BC. Marshall, who was visiting London for the weekend with his girlfriend, said the project came about spontaneously.


“Initially we decided to visit for a historical trip and to look at all the artifacts,” he said to EDP24. “But we then decided to have a bit of fun with Snapchat and were surprised at how well it worked. It was actually terrifying looking at some of the photos.”

The 24-year-old technical support analyst told the Daily Mail the face swap project shows “either how good technology has become or how good the sculptor’s work was.”


Now an internationally-known faceswapper, Marshall said the photos were not as easy as they look.

“They were all rather tricky to get, as I was being cautious not to touch the statues or inconvenience other museum goers,” he explained to ABC News. “Fortunately, with it being first thing on a Monday morning, there weren’t that many people.”

A communications person from the British Museum declined to comment on Marshall’s project, saying “We wouldn’t wish to comment on a visitor’s personal experience while viewing the collection. Jake Marshall was here in a private capacity.”


Related Resources:

  1. Online Course: Introduction to Visual Arts

  2. Leveraging Social Media as a Designer – Online Workshop

  3. The Design History Ultimate Collection